20071129 Cellphone crash

Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram file

Dear Crabby,

Am I in the minority in thinking too many drivers on the road ought to be required to take driver’s ed again? My suspicion is that it’s mostly from that nasty addiction to staring at their smart phones (which may be an oxymoron).

The main issue is that folks can’t seem to stay in their lanes — even the commercial truck drivers, who are supposed to be professional drivers. I’ve learned to watch them closely and be ready to take evasive action. Pretty scary when they are coming at you from the opposite direction, and you realize they are drifting over the center line and coming into your lane.

With that established, here is a quick rundown of my pet peeves, which I encounter anywhere I go at any time of the day or night:

• Turn signals. Yeah those blinky light things that are supposed to be courteously employed to give other drivers a heads-up about your directional intentions. Some folks seem to have forgotten how to use them.

• It’s shocking to see someone who does not understand what a turn lane is for. Come on people, get all the way into that lane and quit leaving your (mild expletive) in the way of traffic.

• Tailgating! This is the one that puts me closest to a real road rage session. It is only asking for a collision, and you are not getting anywhere faster by doing it.

• Speeding through parking lots. How stupid, selfish and dangerous is this? If there’s any place you need to be careful about pedestrians, this is it. You will eventually hit some person, or their child, by doing so.

• Taking up both exit lanes when leaving a parking lot. So nice that you don’t recognize that you are creating a bottleneck for other drivers.

•And the one that makes me want to buy a dictionary for many drivers is that they don’t understand that signs that say “yield” or “merge” don’t mean that you should just butt into traffic without even glancing over your left shoulder at traffic already on the highway.

So that’s my soapbox rant, and I’m sure folks have far more important things going on in their lives to consider the needs of other drivers, and clean up the sloppy/dangerous driving habits they display.


Peeved on the Road

Dear Peeved,

That’s a pretty solid list of pet peeves. In fact a lot of them — tailgating, turn signals, lane travel — are so universally loathed I don’t even think you can call them “pet” peeves. They’re more in the category of “widely acknowledged evils.”

The ones that are real “pet” peeves — parking lot thoughtlessness, taking up both sides of the parking lot exit, leaving your (mild expletive) in traffic when you should be in the turn lane — line up with my own pet peeves. So I think we have a lot of common ground here.

Turns out you and I are the only good drivers.

Er, wait. That’s what EVERYONE thinks, isn’t it? The truth is most of us (myself included) have been guilty of at least some of the bad behavior you described, either by inattention or because we were in a hurry or because we just chose not to care about courtesy in a particular instance.

I get a lot of Dear Crabby submissions about driving and traffic irritation. And every time it helps me to reflect on my own driving. I think I’m a good, courteous driver in general. But I know I could do better. We all could do better. And it’s not just a matter of manners; there were 37,461 traffic fatalities in the United States in 2016. Every one of those was a real person with a real life.

They were worried about how to pay for college, or they were happy to have just heard from an old friend, or they were wondering whether to get a soup or a salad from the deli. It was just a drive for them like the millions of other drives they’d taken. And in an instant, they were just gone.

I know that’s kind of a heavy thing to bring up in an ostensibly humorous advice column. But driving politely and driving safely are often pretty much the same thing. So let’s drive politely, people.

And if it was me tailgating you, Peeved, I apologize. I’m trying to get better, too.

Hope that helps.